The career of Qaroon in the Quran serves to illustrate the short-sightedness of serving one’s own financial interests at the expense of others.
Although of Bani Israel, he was one of those who aligned himself with Pharaoh, assisting him in keeping the slaves under control.
For preventing revolt, Qaroon was well rewarded.
Some of Banu Israel were envious of him but those loyal to Musa (a) had a different view.
They understood that his wealth was not of real value.
He did not enjoy the fruits of his tyranny and betrayal.
“And We caused the earth to swallow him and his home. And there was for him no company to aid him other than Allah, nor was he of those who [could] defend themselves.” (Qur’an 28:81)
In the Bible, where he is named Korah, and where his resistance to the mission of Musa (a) is emphasised, his fate was terrifying. [Ch 16:33 Numbers]
Qaroon’s attitude did not die with him.
We are seeing it played out in the struggle during the pandemic between “keeping open” versus “lockdown” in the battle against COVID-19.
Much of the criticism of the NSW lockdown has been that it has permitted large stores to remain open while closing down small businesses, creating the suspicion that only the wealthiest voices have been heard, despite their impact on the efficacy of the health measures.
Another example of Qaroon’s attitude can be seen in the issue of global warming.
The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, launched in Istanbul in August 2015 put the matter bluntly:
“Our species, though selected to be a caretaker or steward (khalifah) on the earth, has been the cause of such corruption and devastation on it that we are in danger ending life as we know it on our planet.”
This view that the matter is urgent was supported by the Roman Pontiff in the 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si.”
Such awareness has not managed to penetrate the Australian political scene.
The Sustainable Development Report scored Australia last out of 193 United Nations member countries for action taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. [Guardian, 1 July 2021 ]
That the fossil fuel industry provides funds to the major political parties might help explain this.
A recent Australian Conservation Foundation report found that the coal, oil and gas industry gave $1.9m in 2018-19, more than doubled since the $894,336 it gave in 2015-16. [Guardian, 12 February 2020]
The G7 conference earlier this year came out strongly on the issue of zero emissions by 2050.
The Science Academies of the G7 nations stated; “Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced at a faster pace if we are to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. [Royal Society, 31 March 2021]
Some ambiguous statements about the 2050 target of zero emissions made by our PM, an observer at the G7, was sufficient to frighten the fossil fuel supporters in the LNP Coalition.
The result was the elevation of a climate change denier to the leadership of the National Party and the position of Deputy Prime Minister.
Australia stands out at present as a place where the short term economic advantages of the fossil fuel and mining industries, the wealth of Qaroon, is placed above the rights of humanity to sustaining life.
“We are in danger of ending life as we know it on our planet.”